Being a minority in a sea of extroverts, I’ve often wondered, why would we need introverts to begin with? Aren’t we like… genetically mutated or something?
We suck at being in big groups of people. We get exhausted from talking constantly. We get bored by people who chatter or talk our ears off. Like, this is the worst, no?
But THEN it came to me!
We rock at being on our own. Or silent. We don’t mind it when people give us the silent treatment – bring it on! And we don’t mind going on long walks by ourselves because we need time to think and process.
And there are times for everyone when we are on our own (See post on being alone vs. lonely). Whether it be when our family is out of town, our friends are doing something fun without us, or when something horrible happens to our mac ‘n cheese (oops, I think I’m hangry again!)
I recently talked to a very nosy and obnoxious coworker. She’s always looking over somebody’s shoulder, or looking at your timesheets to ask you, like did you really come in at 6:12am? And she’s constantly getting up to talk to someone or other.
And despite being super annoyed by her gossipy nature and pathetic attempts to hit on all men, from tubby middle aged gents to young twenty-somethings (um, she’s married and over fifty!)… I decided to give her a chance.
So one fateful morning, when it was just her (and me), I let her chat my ear off/ask me tons of questions. And this time, instead of giving her vague answers and one word responses in protest against her nosiness, I decided to ask her some questions too. But not in an annoying way. Just in a genuinely friendly capacity.
I decided to give her another chance even though she for some odd reason seemed jealous of the time I put in, or of my wit, brains and beauty (SIKE!) And I decided that I’d just try to see if I could make an obviously miserable person just a teensy bit happier.
So after a very little bit of prodding, I found out that this gossipy lady is actually just an extravert in need of attention or a venting opportunity. In our conversation, which lasted like… two hours… she actually didn’t gossip once, and only asked me about work-related intel like three times (WAY better than her cornering me in an elevator or pouncing at me by the water cooler!)
Anyways, as always, I stayed vague in discussing myself since DUH, she’s a gossip! I’d be an idiot to share anything meaningful with her.
But I hoped that my interest in her life for non-gossipy reasons made up for it. (Because, normally, I’m not at all interested in gossipy people – I usually feel a mixture of pity and annoyance about busybodies with nothing better to do than make up gossip and sneak around. But I really could care less what they did last night or who they saw doing what).
And that’s when I realized that she’s actually just lonely (again, my feelings of pity were justified). She told me that her husband has been out of town for a long period of time.
And she also made it seem like she was excited that somebody arrived to keep her company. Obviously, the silence was killing her.
I decided to do the honorable thing – and conversing, conversating, conversationing until another soul arrived. But then it was time for me to listen to a good podcast or music, and daydream about my lavish future (probably as the governess of Prince Sloth?)
And even though I knew this lady wanted to stay for a while, I noticed that after a couple of hours, she couldn’t take the silence anymore, and she left. I decided not to let myself feel guilty for her leaving – I’m not responsible for entertaining her, I’m responsible for me.
Once she left, I got to thinking… I’m so glad that I’m independent and don’t need others to make me happy. But sure, plenty of extroverts are independent too, right?
So what set me apart from extroverts?
Sure, I love and rely on my friends and family in many ways. I do genuinely need to talk once in a while. But I’ve learned to be self-sufficient in my happiness too.
I can sit for hours in silence and not really mind it (although generally, in a work environment, there are always extroverts that disrupt my peaceful silence by jabbering on and on!) No, actually, I really don’t mind people talking my ear off, or talking to others ALL day either. Unless I’m hangry – in which case I’ll probably pout and then cry!
But I do have a huge advantage in life in that being alone, or silent, really never bothers me. (Unless I’m on a date, and the guy doesn’t show up, and I’m just sitting there for ever and ever… but that’s yet to happen, and actually I’d probably still be ok cuz I can read the menu twenty times and order myself a lychee martini).
What do you think? Is it hard for you to be silent for hours and hours? What’s worse: everybody giving you the silent treatment, or someone talking your ear off about dragons for eight hours?
Please comment, share your thoughts and let me know what you think. Please help me keep this a positive forum, though. I am so excited for some debate, but let’s respect each other please. I reserve the right to monitor and delete inappropriate posts. Thanks in advance!
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